Archive for November, 2009

2009, November 30

Christmas tree decorations from plaster

Christmas is right around the corner so after a friend of mine gave me this wonderful idea, I decided to try my luck and make plaster thingies :P

A few ideas go a long way, these can very well be cute and thoughtful, yet inexpensive Christmas (and not only!) gifts for your loved ones.

How to make – Plaster castings

measuring cup
rubber bowl
spoon to mix
plaster powder (the one that dries white is best)
water
casting molds (or chocolate/candy/etc. molds)

The most important thing is you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to mix your plaster powder with water (I mixed 2 parts plaster powder with 1 part water). Place the powder to the bowl, add the water and slowly mix.

The mixture you get from that should be a bit thick but runny, liquid enough to flow off of your spoon without any additional help.
I found that the more watery the mixture is, the longer it will take to dry (which doesn’t really matter if you’re using small molds cause they dry very quickly in those), and the pieces will also be lighter in weight once dry.
It’s also easier to work with if the mixture is more watery as it won’t set as fast (and you won’t have to throw away half of it because it’s hardened).

Use the mixture immediately after and spoon it into the candy molds or plastic molds.
If you tap the molds, it will make the air bubbles come to the backside of the pieces and they’ll look more esthetic.

Leave them sit, and after a few minutes feel the back of the castings: when they are firm you can carefully remove them from the mold.
At this point you can also place magnets, thread, etc. to the back for hanging or whatever you want to use them for).

Use a craft knife to get rid of the excess plaster around the edges. Poke a hole from the front to the back so you can later hang them (on the Christmas tree, etc.).

Let the pieces dry completely (I left them on the radiator overnight and by morning they were ready to use/paint).

Use acrylic paint to paint the pieces. Water color paint works well also, but the color is not as intense.
Once painted and dry, use clear acrylic sealer on them to protect them from moisture and to give them a nice glossy look.

Here are the ones I made last week :)

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 I will be posting more ideas and examples of plaster castings, so stay tuned for next week.

Later update: You can also find my post about the “Autumn window decorations” right here on Pillowchats.com

2009, November 28

The unknown girl – by Estrella Azul

It was a cold autumn day and she had no intention of going out on the break between classes, too much of a hassle just for going to the lengths of freezing herself, she thought.

She was happily reading her book sitting in her bench near the window. She looked out from time to time.

Her friend suddenly sat down and impatiently waited for her to finish the sentence.

“What is it?” – she asked.

“Well, you know… my neighbor has started here this year and I thought of going by her classroom during this break to see how she’s doing. And point her in the right direction about the teachers here.” – her friend had a big grin on her face.

“But I’m so comfortable here in the warm classroom, reading.” – even the hallways were close to freezing temperature that day. – “I’ll join you next time, okay?”

“But I wouldn’t like to go alone… way to the other end of the school… it’s a whole floor away.” – her friend pleadingly replied – “Come on, some leg stretching will do you good!”

“Alright…” she gave in reluctantly.

They got their sweaters and headed out. As soon as they closed the door behind them, she started to regret her choice, she missed the summer’s warmth so much.

Walking down the corridors she was thinking of how fast her beloved summer passed by, how many bad things have happened during it from friend’s betrayal to relationships gone bad, and ultimately the break up.  Yet she still missed it.

And she missed having a day-long internet connection!

Being back in school, knowing it would still be three years before graduation was very depressing to her at the moment. What in the world could she do to pass time quickly during a boring class whilst at home she could be chatting with her friends, watching interesting videos, movies and openly reading her book in the garden.

She tripped. Her friend looked back at her smiling.

“See you’ve noticed we’re here.”

“Yes, thank you.” she replied while watching her next step.

They entered the 9th grader’s classroom, headed toward the acquaintance and after the proper introductions were made, she took a step back and observed the classroom while giving her friend privacy to talk.

She looked around among the mayhem of what a break meant in every classroom, but especially to 9th grader’s and thought of how nice it must be for them to be so far away from the teachers lounge as opposed to her classroom. The building, thus the hallways, being square they were right in front of the teachers balcony so not much mischief went unnoticed.

These guys had all the privacy in the school while they could still see the teachers coming and hide any trace of evidence before getting into any trouble.

As she stood there looking out the window, admiring the school and its old feel, the tree in the middle of the yard with its little white picket fence around it and the now fading flowers it protected she somehow felt lonely and far away even though behind her most of the students were shouting and enjoying themselves.

She only dropped back into reality as she heard the sentence:

“Hey, there’s an unknown girl in our classroom!”

She turned around looking directly into the eyes of the person who said this.

He was a tall guy, with light brown hair, and the most beautiful hazel eyes she ever saw.

Of course she couldn’t tell him that… and it was a pity. She didn’t even get to introduce herself  as the guy’s classmates jumped at the occasion of teasing an unknown person.

As the bell rang she and her friend closed the door behind them heading back to their own classroom.

“Unknown girl” these two words got to her more than she had expected and it dawned on her that even though it was said as a joke, it was the truest statement she heard in a long time.

She actually was an unknown girl.

There in that classroom full of 9th graders, in her own classroom, in her former relationship, among her friends, at home and…

And even to herself.

2009, November 26

Funny Pearls of Wisdom #11

This funny pear of wisdom dates back to when our female roommate (who teaches history in some God forgotten village) was reading something out loud in her room. I was quite surprised… she can’t read continuously. I would’ve been ashamed to read like her, like a bad record player (remember those?) :P

After looking at me with the face of a little kid at Christmas my fiancé said:

pearls of wisdom no 6

2009, November 24

Winter and Christmas window decorations #1

Ever since I found some great templates for window decorations and made a few autumn themed ones I’ve been searching for more and more, borrowed hobby magazines, draw, downloaded, etc. and now I have quite a collection ;) 

They’re pretty easy to make, and all you need is:

How to make – Window decorations

recycled colored paper (or white paper you can color yourself later)
a template or imagination and skills to draw one yourself
carbon paper
and a paper cutter

You start off by choosing your design, print it out/draw it, place the carbon paper on you colored paper, place the template on the two and trace it to transfer the design to the colored paper.
Then use the paper cutter to cut the gaps which give your window decoration shape and the much loved effect on your window.

Since winter is almost here and with it Christmas is approaching rapidly, here are a few Winter and Christmas themed window decorations I made :) (I placed them on a grey background so you can see the colors and shape gaps better)

page window deco 1

page window deco 2 

I love how cool they look on the window and they’re great cause they can be enjoyed from inside and outside as well.

After making these I was so pleased with my work that I decided to make more (and especially since I’ll take these to my mom’s and to my grandparent’s house, so there’s nothing left for my windows), so stay tuned for Winter and Christmas window decorations #2 :)

Later update: You can also find my post about the “Autumn window decorations” right here on Pillowchats.com

2009, November 22

How do you write and relax?

Having the whole day to myself on Thursday, I decided to just relax and write some new flash fiction since it won’t write itself.

I had my alarm clock set for 9 AM so naturally I slept right through it and woke up at 11 AM. Had breakfast, washed the dishes, tidied up and vacuumed the room and hallways cause if I only do the room we’d just bring all the dirt back in. This took about two hours.

I finally sat on the couch and started my laptop.

I wanted to get everything done before starting to write, so I checked my e-mails, comments, FB messages, Twitter, etc. first which led to opening various interesting sites, reading posts, articles, and so on until another two hours later I finally closed everything, opened my Windows Live Writer and started writing.

I was almost done with my flash fiction when, aside from many other minor things that had distracted me constantly that day (for example thinking if I should cut my hair shorter, than searching for photos to see what I like), I looked out the window and saw an amazing color palette in the sky, clouds as the sun was setting.

I jumped up, went to get my camera, took a few photos and naturally wasn’t satisfied by them because of the flat(s), the trees, and the church, etc. were in the way.

So I quickly got my keys, and I rushed out of the apartment until the scenery won’t change too much (while noticing how crazy I am), got in the elevator even though I’m absolutely terrified of it and would rather go up the stairs to the 8th floor (with laundry!) if my fiancé can’t come with me.

After some terrible minutes in the squeaky elevator, I quickly ran up the remaining stairs to the 9th floor which is the dryer room, opened it’s lock and took it with me just to be on the safe side, and climbed out the window to the rooftop.

The view was amazing!

I took several photos mainly because I didn’t know which ones will come out pretty or blurry and thought to myself: okay it was worth it :)

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Then I climbed back in the dryer room making sure I don’t break my camera or my neck (I may need to get my priorities straight cause I was way more worried about the camera!).

I gathered all the laundry which we forgot were even up there, and with a huge arm full of clothes I struggled to close the door, slowly went down to the 8th floor again seriously considering to take the stairs all the way down, but eventually decided against it (apparently I’m more afraid of the dark then dying in the elevator alone).

And here comes the not-so-much-fun-at-the-time part of the story which now I can smile about:

I somehow managed to be calm (okay so not calm… but calmer than usually) in the elevator, arrived downstairs, then struggled to open the apartment door with my camera and a set of keys plus the dryer room key in my hands and the clothes in my arms. Unfortunately when I tried to close the door, the draft slammed it behind me before I could stop it (insert big banging sound here) but did not close.

At this point my "darling" male roommate who saw my struggling, started shouting at me, cursing and mentioning my mom "asking" me to close the door without slamming it…

I think it’s rather sweet. He must really miss hearing my voice (I haven’t said a word to him since last year) and that’s probably why he provoked me. I see no other reason except if he’s not just pretending to be an idiot.

I didn’t say anything, there was no point. But my stubbornness somehow won the fight with reason and much to his surprise I slammed shut with proper banging sound all 3 doors I had to close (front door, hallway door, our room door (the last on to his face)) behind me.

Now I feel kind of bad, cause poor doors don’t deserve that treatment, but it did calm my nerves a bit, so that too was worth it (not even mentioning the look on my roommate’s face when I dared defy him).

Priceless! ;)

2009, November 20

Lost dreams of a broken link – by Estrella Azul

The grandmother sat happily sewing with her granddaughter by her side, chatting comfortably about this and that.

After a while, the machine slowed then stopped.
Her eyes welled with tears as she looked at her granddaughter and said:

“I had a dream about him last night. But this one was different.
In this one I was in the emergency room or somewhere and doctors and nurses were walking around me when I saw your uncle.
He was as handsome, respectable and tidy as when he was in his twenties, but clearly he was as old as he is … or would be… now. Fifty two.

I was so surprised to see him after such a long time.
I asked him how he got to the hospital, has he been there all along, was he staying? But he told me to be quiet now, that he’ll be by my side, that I should rest.
‘We’ll talk later’ he assured me."

The granddaughter listened, not knowing how to respond.

She also had dreams about her uncle sometimes quite a few times dreaming that he came back but she never told anyone.
Her dreams would only bring up unnecessary emotions and maybe unreal hope to her family, especially for her grandmother.

***

She urged the conversation on by telling her grandmother how she also remembered her uncle as a handsome man when he was younger.

“I can just see that one time I got ice skates for Christmas and he taught me to skate on the lake in Central Park. He knew mom didn’t have time since she was cooking for everyone and dad wasn’t around so even though he had other more important things to attend to he cancelled his plans just to spend time with me.

I was just thinking about him, about how we spent time together, how much he loved me, how protective he was of me, even when I had some fights with mom, he was the one who defended me, no matter what."

“He didn’t have any children, but he just adored you from the first moment he laid eyes on you! You are his only niece, his goddaughter. The man has good taste.”

She smiled and squeezed her granddaughter in a tight hug..

“And I remember his jokes, his fun, comical personality, all the laughs.” – the granddaughter continued.

“We had lots of laughs!

But I also remember the person he became after his second divorce…”

“Yes, I know… Holding down a job seemed to be hard for him, as he was in between jobs many times.
He began smoking and drinking. A little at first, then a lot, not taking care of himself, owing money to who knows what kind of people. Until in some sort of vulnerable state of mind he sold the house he lived in to those gypsies.”

The granddaughter looked down at her lap. That had stung she thought to herself… it was my grandmother’s house that he sold. And he didn’t even ask her.

“Do you remember your uncle’s neighbor’s panicked phone call to let the family know what he had done? I think you were the one who answered the phone that afternoon.”

“Yes, I remember. She said that my uncle was apparently asleep in front of the house while the gypsies were taking away all his earthly possessions. I wonder what ever happened to them…”

“I wish I knew. Your grandfather went there in a hurry, but the gypsies flashed a bill of sale under his nose and he had no choice but to leave them to take everything they wanted. There’s no reasoning with gypsies.
He couldn’t even save any of the old photos… so many memories gone just like that.” 

“That’s when my uncle went to Spain, right?” the granddaughter asked.

“Yes, then he was just a vagrant in a strange country, with no money, no place to stay, no right to be there.”

The granddaughter remembered what she had read in some of her uncle’s papers, that he slept on the streets, or in the park, wherever he could find a warm corner and that he had sometimes shoplifted to raise money for food.
He was arrested a few times for this.

She never told anyone what she read. No one else in the family understood Spanish and they never got the papers translated. Only she knew the real reason her uncle had been deported.

“Finally he got deported right before Christmas and was sent home with the clothes on his back, his passport and some paperwork. He didn’t even have an identity card on him.”

“I remember how great that Christmas was. He lived here with us and we could all celebrate together… and then in the first weeks of January he left.

He just left, no note, nothing.”

“There were a couple of phone calls, and he visited again after that a few times in March, or was it May? I don’t remember exactly, but either way spring 2002 was the last time I saw him. All we have now of him are the papers he left behind.

We never heard from him again."

***

No one has really gotten over it, especially my grandmother. I’m sure she’s still hoping her son will just turn up one day as he had before. I think that’s what prompted her dream.
Every mother only wants the best for their child. Just before she started up the sewing machine again she wistfully asked:

“What do you think this dream means? …
Do you think that maybe he is still alive?”

I sat there silently, knowing that we were both wondering the same thing:
if it’s better to know or not to know the answer to that last question?

 

Based on a true story.

 

Note: If by any chance G. T. might recognize his life story in these few lines, please contact me!

2009, November 18

Wordless #3

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Budapest, Hungary 2007

Gellért Hegyi vízesés (waterfall on Gellért Hill)

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